Clinical Oral Investigations

, Volume 17, Issue 8, pp 1855–1861 | Cite as

Oral health care utilization in children with disabilities

  • Roos LeroyEmail author
  • Dominique Declerck
Original Article



The objectives of this report were to survey the utilization of oral health care in children and adolescents with disabilities over a 7-year period and to compare these data with the utilization pattern of their peers without disabilities. For most countries, these data have not been published in the international literature so far.

Material and methods

The cohort used was the Permanent Sample of Socially Insured Persons, an anonymous representative sample of Belgian residents. The database comprised prospective data on oral and general health care utilization and sociodemographic variables collected from 2002 up to 2008.


Data were available from 326 children and adolescents with and 53,589 without disabilities. Dental attendance rates were low in both subgroups: only 50 % had a dental visit in four or more of the seven observation years. Emergency oral and medical care was recorded significantly more often in children with disabilities whereas radiographs, restorations, and orthodontic assessments and treatments more frequently in children without disabilities.


The present study demonstrated that dental attendance rates in both subgroups were low and that in those who attended, preventive oral health care was only infrequently attested. Further research is needed to elucidate whether the lower number of radiographs and restorations and the higher number of emergency visits observed in the subgroup with disabilities reflect unmet oral treatment needs.

Clinical relevance

Objective data on health care utilization are essential to enable governments and stakeholders to devise appropriate care and to optimize access to care for persons with disabilities.


Oral health care Care utilization Disabilities Children Epidemiological data 



The research presented in this paper was performed within the frame of the Pilot Study Oral Health for Individuals with Special Needs, by order of the NIHDI. The authors do appreciate the advice they received from Kris Van De Velde (NIHDI), Pieter Van Meenen (NIHDI), Rodrigo Ruz Torres (NIHDI), Ragna Préal (Intermutualist Agency) and they are indebted to Kris Bogaerts, I-Biostat, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and Universiteit Hasselt, for statistical analyses.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Oral Health SciencesOral Health Research Unit, KU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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